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The Spirituality of Falling in Love

Maybe there is something divine in the bliss we feel.

Is there anything better than falling in love? What could possibly compare? Other contenders for absolute bliss, such as the birth of a child, getting married, or even winning the lottery are shorter lived or bring with them immediate effects (such as night time feedings of a newborn) that are less pleasurable.

But falling in love is a drug that keeps on giving, at least for a while. Research shows that romantic love always ends, anywhere from six months to three years from when it began. But while it is happening it cares nothing for research, common sense, or consequences. It has a logic that transcends all those petty concerns. From without, it can appear illogical. But from within, it obeys the soul’s logic of love, which is far higher and more inclusive than everyday reality.

When we’re in love, anything is possible. We’re not only in love with another person, but we also fall in love with ourselves, with the world around us, and the future ahead of us. Some part of us says: “I always knew this was possible, that this is the way we’re supposed to feel and to live.” It feels as though we are connecting to our truer selves and to a deeper reality around us.

While I am well aware of its temporary nature and even the temporary insanity it sometimes causes, I still believe falling in love is true in the highest sense of the word, even though it may not stand up to the brutal realities of everyday life. Falling in love with another person, the wonder and beauty of the wholeness and perfection that comes with it, is the closest and most sustained experience most of us will ever have of heaven on earth.

Proverbs 20:27 states “The candle of God is the soul of man.” Commentators[1] explain that this is a metaphor whereby the human soul is the flame and the human body is the candle and wick. Body and soul are united in this metaphor, but pulling in opposite directions. The flame reaches always upward, seeking to return to its source above, as if trying to separate itself from the candle upon which it depends. The candle, which supplies the energy for the flame, anchors it in the material world, not letting it escape to return to the larger flame (God). Our souls constantly yearn to return to God, to a sense of oneness, to transcend that feeling of harsh and unnatural separation with which we live each day. This yearning for return to our source, the soul’s desire to reunite with its truer home, as symbolized in the candle’s flicker upwards, is capital L Love. Everything else we call love is a derivative of the soul’s purest and highest and most profound urge to merge with God.

So that romantic love with another person, as irrational by earthly logic as it is powerful, gives us a glimpse/taste/experience of a spiritual truth: We are not meant to live our lives in a feeling of separation but in a feeling of unity and oneness. We can get a sense of that when we fall in love with another person and experience all the feelings that come with it: The world is beautiful and full of wonder, anything is possible, we truly are special, and to love is to call forth our best selves in something that is very akin to worship.

Surely by this point some of you are wondering: “Then why doesn’t it last?” It feels like such a cruel joke, to taste of the divine through falling in love, only to have it snatched away when the feeling fades.

Let’s just enjoy the feeling and its truth for now. I’ll take up the “why doesn’t it last” question in next month’s installment.

[1] Steinsaltz, A. (2005). Learning from the Tanya. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, pp. 118-125.

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